This documentary combines recent interviews and old footage to provide a comprehensive view of The Clash, one of the world's most influential rock bands. Footage from old club shows and stadium concerts is intercut with interviews with band members Mick Jones, Paul Simonon, Topper Headon, and Joe Strummer. The Clash began as rebellious punks eager to combine their influences: Simonon leaned towards reggae, and Jones leaned toward harder-edged British rock, while Strummer favored American R&B. Despite various fights and conflicts, The Clash emerged as "the only band that mattered," a punk rock band which ventured beyond punk to create a unique and unforgettable sound. WESTWAY TO THE WORLD documents their beginnings, their rise to stardom, and their collapse. Written by
Whatever a group is it was the chemical mixture of those four people that makes a group work. That's a lesson everyone should learn, "Don't mess with it!" If it works just let it... Do whatever you have to do to bring it forward but don't mess with it. And like, we learned that... bitterly.
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This short film is celebrated by devotees of The Clash; to non-fans, it's still interesting, less in the story of the band but in the style of its telling. "We came, we fought, we made great music" - that seems to be the take home message, all four of the band's original members contribute (and the film indeed contains little other than a mixture of their interviews and concert footage); but there seems to be a very deliberate decision not to present a blow-by-blow description of every action, but rather, for the band members to present their history as a simple fact of nature - something that just happened. Given that the band rose and closed in just five years, maybe there's some truth in this curt account, although perhaps also the band (and film-maker Don Letts) realised that less can be more in terms of effect. In spite of past quarrels, the band all essentially sing the same song here; the other thing of note is quite how posh lead singer Joe Strummer can actually sound. But I'd have liked a little more social context - regardless of their musical talents, the post-punk Clash represented their times (the end of the seventies and the start of the eighties) maybe more than any other band - but this is only weakly conveyed in this (somewhat introverted) account.
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